In 1999 I began to shift from the representation of constructed online identity (A Manifesto for Avatars) to the creation of a networked, immersive and embodied self through the construction of immersive virtual environments. These environments were built from recombinatory instances of collected qualia, forming visualizations of embodied consciousness. Qualia collected from a large number of people across a range of geographic and cultural locations through a web-gathering interface forms a model of consciousness that is distributed, dynamic, and multi-nodal.
The virtual environment combines anatomical datasets from medical imaging sources including the NIH-sponsored Visible Human Project, with a three-dimensional laser scan of my own body skin, obtained courtesy of the CAESER 3D Anthropometric Database. These 3d models contain instances of qualia in the form of audio files, texts, videos, and images collected from a number of individuals through the web-gatherer. The goal of the project is to create a immersive anatomical landscape that mixes collected instances of conscious experience and anatomical data across the body in an evolving and recombinatory way, for the purposes of embodiment and self-reconfiguration. ‘The Dance of the Body w/o Organs’ is the result of my desire to build a new relationship to my flesh, ‘The Flesh’ (Merleau-Ponty 1968: 140), and to the body politic. The project has gone through at least 30 iterations, with the final being a collaboration with social scientist Dr Brian Betz, and artist/aesthetics researcher Dr Dena Eber. Our research explores the relationship between levels of participant presence, through quantitative and qualitative measures, to the degree of their aesthetic experience (Little, Betz and Eber 2004).
Although the work has been exhibited in a number of contexts, including high-end CAVE and HEMISPHERIUM environments, the latest iteration has been exhibited as a stereo-optic rear projection on a 6 x 9 foot screen, by 2 dlp projectors with circular polarizing filters, driven by a single Windows-based PC, a surround-sound audio system, a wireless RF gyromouse. The latest iteration is built using the indy gaming engine, Blitz3D. The project has generated a number of still-images exhibited as digital prints and presented/published as academic papers. Keywords: Artaud, “The Body without Organs”, “The Visible Human Project”, The CAESAR Project